Quality Knowledge

A Complete Guide to Total Quality Management

total quality management

Total quality management (TQM) is a dynamic management approach that allows organizations to achieve sustainable success by ensuring customer satisfaction and winning over customer loyalty.

This management approach requires all members and workers of the organization to participate in the efforts directed at improving organizational processes, enhancing the quality of products or services, and introducing a corporate culture that is healthy and harmonious.

TQM can be understood as a management approach that promotes a customer-focused organizational culture and involves all employees and team members in continuous and sustainable improvement. It relies on data-driven strategies and efficient communication to deeply embed quality and discipline within the organization’s culture.

This article will walk you through the dynamics of this management approach with valuable insight.

The Principles of TQM

Total quality management revolves around eight integral principles that revolve around a customer-centric approach and the involvement of all employees within the organization.

Let’s take a look at these principles.

1. Customer-Centric

A customer-focused culture is an essential pillar of the TQM approach. It dictates that the level of quality of the products or services marketed by an organization is ultimately determined by its customers.

All the efforts undertaken by an organization to usher in quality improvements, be it employee training, upgrading technological infrastructure, or incorporating quality into the research and development product, the customer’s worth is determined.

Therefore, an organization must undertake research to understand the quality that its customers seek. This research will prove valuable in undertaking quality improvements that appeal to the targeted consumer audience.

2. Total Employee Participation

Total employee involvement is an integral principle of the total quality management approach. It requires all employees to equal participation in achieving mutual goals. Naturally, this requires them to consider themselves as an integral part of the organization.

Employers cannot achieve total employee participation and commitment until the culture of fear has been eliminated effectively and entirely. It is crucial to empower and strengthen employees and create a workplace culture that motivates and encourages them.

This requires both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and increased employee participation with an emphasis on valuing their feedback and participation. The management has to create an inclusive and harmonious culture that is appreciative of their employees.

Self-managed work models are an ideal strategy to empower and motivate employees, encouraging them to picture their goals as one with the organization’s goals. High-performance work systems are instrumental in ushering in continuous enhancements with day-to-day business operations.

3. Process Thinking

Process-centered thinking forms the central premise of the TQM approach. Process refers to a series of measures that allow organizations to take feedback and insight from their internal and external suppliers. This insight is translated into outputs, which are delivered to the organization’s internal and external customers.

The organization must ensure that all its processes are well-defined and well-articulated to eliminate ambiguities and ensure efficiency. The senior management must strive to ensure that all performance measures are regularly monitored to identify any unexpected changes or variations.

4. Integrated System

Organizations consist of various departments, specialties, and functions, which are typically structured in the form of vertical departments or processes. However, the total quality management approach focuses on interconnecting all the organization’s functions with horizontal structures.

This transition can prove challenging, but horizontal systems allow superior integration in the long run, thereby improving employee participation. It also allows each department to ensure active participation in all organizational activities as opposed to carving out separate domains.

All micro-processes require scrutiny and attention because they multiply and add up to form larger processes. Over time, all processes define business activity to define and implement a strategy focused on improvement.

It is crucial for every employee and team member to understand and recognize the vision, mission, and guiding principles of the TQM approach. All quality policies, critical procedures, and the objectives behind improvements must be underscored to ensure that all team members comprehend the need and processes required for improvement.

Managers must understand the significance of continuously monitoring business processes and communicating changes and variations effectively.

Organizations can model an integrated business process with inspiration from the Baldrige Award criteria. They can also implement the standards enshrined in the ISO 9000, which may prove easier for organizations and businesses to examine their quality controls for the first time.

Each organization has a unique organizational culture. Cultivating a healthy and inclusive, quality-focused culture is the first step to supplementing the organization’s efforts to achieve excellence and ensure its products and services stand unparalleled across the industry.

Without undertaking the initiative of establishing a quality-focused culture, organizations simply cannot aim to achieve excellence. An integrated system is a crucial step as it connects all departments and stakeholders of the business to continually work towards improvements and enhancements.

This integration will prove instrumental in exceeding the expectations of all stakeholders, be it shareholders, customers, or employees.

5. Continual Process Improvement

Continual process improvement is an enormous vision that dominates the TQM approach. It focuses on creative, research-driven, and analytical improvement that allows an organization to discover new ways to usher in improvements and identify new ways to make its brand more competitive.

It is focused on ushering in technological, strategic, procedural, and cultural improvements to ensure all organizational activities are renovated and improved. This continual process improvement allows an organization to meet stakeholder expectations more effectively.

6. Strategic and Systematic Approach

TQM dictates organization to enhance the quality of management by adopting strategic and systematic approaches towards achieving the agendas, vision, and goals of the organization.

Strategic planning and systematic management refer to setting strategic agendas and devising systematic plans that are focused on quality and continual improvement.

7. Factual Decision Making

Fact-based decision-making procedures create the backbone of the TQM approach. Data-driven performance evaluation metrics are crucial to help organizations understand how well they are performing and whether the measures taking for improvement are working or not.

TQM requires an organization to continually focus on collecting and examining performance evaluation through data-driven metrics. This requires analysis and insight to achieve consensus and use past history and future forecasts to make substantial predictions.

Fact-based decision making is crucial to support the decisions and actions of an organization with research and facts.

8. Effective Communication

Adopting and implementing the principles of TQM requires an organization to usher in change, which can prove unsettling for employees who are habitual to a certain way of handling operations.

The organization must harmonize this change and make it easier for its employees by maintaining effective and robust communication. TQM ushers in significant changes in day-to-day organizational operations, which require efficient and effective communication.

Effective communication is instrumental in motivating, encouraging, and inspiring employees while uplifting their morale. There are numerous communication strategies and mediums that managers and leaders can undertake to make the transitions easier for their team members.

Summing Up

Total quality management allows an organization to strengthen its competitiveness across the industry. It incorporates adaptability to change and stays abreast of emerging market trends and conditions. It also allows an organization to ensure compliance with legal, governmental and environmental regulation.

More importantly, it elevates the organization’s market image, boosts productivity, and eliminates all kinds of wastage and imperfections. It introduces efficient cost management procedures to reduce costs and increase profitability.